Is Higher Education the Golden Goose or a Dead Duck?

Dick Ohmann’s provocation on the contradictory messages being put out by politicians, corporations, and the media about the fiscal crisis of American education sent me back to a critique I’ve been drafting of conservative economist Richard Vedder on this issue. In the following, I’ve sketchily pasted together sections of that piece and modifications suggested by Dick’s notes. Recent public debates on both the financial decline of American universities and the escalating costs and debts incurred by students have increasingly been framed by conservative scholars such as those surveyed by Jacques Steinberg in aNew York Times article, “Plan B: Skip College” Read More …

Wait, Why Do We Have Colleges Again?

In keeping with a suggestion of the Radical Teacher board that (1) our blogs be more like provocations than like articles, and 2) we bloggers think of one another as our primary readership, with others hopping in as they choose, here’s a puzzle for you all. For 30 years, government and think tank reports have built on the premise that schooling and higher education are valuable chiefly for their contribution to US prosperity, and more particularly, US “preeminence in commerce, industry, science and technological innovation. . . .”  (A Nation at Risk, 1983).  International competitors were overtaking the US then, Read More …

Get Me Out of Here: Dispatches From the For-Profit College

I’m not an activist, a writer, a journalist or any of these things so please bear with me. I have been attending Keiser University since July of last year and only recently have I seen it for what it really is. When you first come to this school they’ll have you believe that this is a quality institution, only concerned with providing a top notch education to every student. Once you’re here for a while though that illusion starts to fade. This school’s primary concern above all else is making a profit. Then maybe they’ll address some educational issues. The Read More …

Meanderthal, Part II

Glorious, heroic, fruitful for his own Time, and for all Time and all Eternity, is the constant Speaker and Doer of Truth! If no such again, in the present generation, is to be vouchsafed us, let us have at least the melancholy pleasure of beholding a decided Liar. Thomas Carlyle, “Count Cagliostro” So here I am in my second year at ZU at a fall faculty meeting. And, after twenty minutes in, wondering, What the hell are you doing? Who is this person? Do I know you? The one suddenly shouting at the college’s President, Dr. D’main, and not only Read More …

Charter Schools and the American Federation of Teachers Convention

At the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Convention last week (July 7-11) in Seattle a resolution was passed that called for unionizing charter schools into already existing AFT locals (not separate locals) and called for transparency in budget, student progress, funding, and corporate and private interests. Apparently the AFT already represents 140 charter schools. All of the Baltimore charter schools are unionized and in NYC the AFT runs several charter schools. Many of us were alarmed by this resolution because of the apparent embrace of the AFT of charter schools with the resultant move to privatization. The strongest objections came Read More …

Meandering, Part I

Monsieur had all the varieties of incapacity which such a post required. –Balzac, Lost Illusions I almost thought that I began when it began, at Zirconium U., a county college dubbed by legislators, who had free miles on clichés, as the county’s “jewel in the crown,” which I had always thought means the Raj, but who knew? Not me. I didn’t know much thirty-eight years ago when I was hired full time as an instructor in the English Department, and where I realized the building I was interviewed and hired in was the building that housed almost all departments, administrative Read More …

Deregulation Comes to Public Higher Education

At the moment of this writing, New York Governor David Paterson is playing a game of political chicken with the state legislature.  Paterson (a Democrat) is counting on the state senate to pass a budget that effectively deregulates tuition at the state and city universities, SUNY and CUNY.  At the CUNY campus where I teach, the cost of each year of college for full-time students who are residents of New York State is $5,050 ($4,600 tuition + $550 in fees).  It’s not much by today’s standards, but it’s not nothing either…which is exactly what CUNY used to cost.  Should Paterson Read More …

There’s Cheating, and Then There’s CHEATING

Good heavens, school teachers and principals are cheating–maybe 1% to 3% of them, nationally;  4% to 5% in Chicago.  So reports Trip Gabriel, in a front page New York Times story, “Pressed to Show Progress, Educators Tamper with Test Scores” (April 11, 2010).  For example:  a principal in Massachusetts told teachers to look over the shoulders of test-taking kids and point out wrong answers to them.  A principal in Virginia “pressured” teachers of struggling special ed students to put the correct answers to state reading test questions on an overhead projector.  In Georgia, the state board of education launched an Read More …

University of Puerto Rico Student Strikes

The silence in the English-language press about the student strikes at the University of Puerto Rico stands in stark contrast to the roar produced by the growing number of students who have moved to shut down UPR to protest state disinvestment from public education. The basic terms of the strike: As the state legislature has systematically diverted money from Puerto Rico’s only public university system, UPR has been left with a $100 million budget shortfall. In response, the Board of Trustees wants  to make up that gap on the backs of the students, more than 60% of whom qualify for Read More …

The 40th Anniversary of the Kent State Killings

My visit to Kent, Ohio for the 40thanniversary of the Kent State killings, when four students were killed (Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandy Scheuer, William Schroeder) and nine injured (with Dean Kahler left paralyzed and in a wheelchair for the last 40 years) was both nostalgic and informative. Although I was not on campus the day of the killings, I did see the burning of the ROTC building and the shattered bank windows over that weekend in downtown Kent.  I also saw the Ohio National Guard occupy my campus, the FBI invade student dormitories looking for weapons and photograph classrooms Read More …